In the Mel Gibson film Apocalypto the Mayan kingdom is faced with its decline and the rulers insist the key to prosperity is to build more temples and offer up human sacrifices. Academics criticised the film stating that the sacrificial subjects would more likely be royalty and elites as opposed common forest dwellers.
Today the whole of humanity and countless other species are faced with the prospect of their demise. Some agencies are no longer counting in decades or even years before such time that we reach climatic tipping points but rather in the number of months.
The Mayans; to their credit, had a plan. They recognised the elites carry greater weight for sacrifice to their deity than the general population. Our deity is the prevailing socio-economic system and our elites are the <1%, the purveyors of the corporate-political-military complex (CPMC). Our temples are the oil fields, pipelines, chimneys, airports, cars and manifold commodities, often needless that create exchange value but have little or no use value. Last night’s Olympic games opening ceremony was a temple where vested interests of the global elite had converged, and worship to the deity capital was ritualistically performed.
In the huge London arena (the site of the world’s newest corporate tax haven, courtesy of the British tax payer) a potted history of capitalism from feudalism to the industrial revolution to the present day was bought to life - the audience watched on and waved enthusiastically while huge mock coal chimneys were erected, and miners with soot stained faces and their well dressed capitalist masters mimed, gyrated and danced; gesturing like crazed primevil peoples as the chimneys arose from the ground, penetrating the previously commons managed grasslands.
A quarter of all tickets – rising to perhaps two-thirds for top events have been given to Olympic bodies and corporate sponsors. These sponsors represent a veritable feast of exploitation, pollution, and corruption. To name just 2 - Mcdonalds, the London 2012 official Olympic restaurant brings you, obesity, diabetes, deforestation and methane and BP the official sustainability partner – brings you the finest lobbyists, the Deepwater Horizon disaster, huge quantities of carbon emissions and a reliance on profit and access from illegal wars.
This spectre of vested interests and cognitive dissonance did however have some surprise moments. A big nod to the NHS, (which may soon be a service consigned to history as its slow motion privatisation continues) in the music montage, dancers formed a CND sign, the anarchist, anti-monarchists -The Sex Pistols were featured and of great surprise was the inclusion albeit briefly of the song ‘Uprising’ by Muse. In an interview frontman Matt Belamy comments:
"This song is influenced by glam rock, 80s synths, riots and the more eccentric protesters at the recent G2O protests. It expresses a general mistrust of bankers, global corporations, and politicians."
“the whole song is about having a massive mistrust for people in power, whether it be government, or bankers. We're living in a society where we're being told to keep quiet, to just accept things as they are."
It was also amusing that the most prominent song in the montage was Dizzy Rascal’s ‘Bonkers’ – Could Danny Boyle who directed the ceremony have been trying to tell us something?
Then on to a speech by Seb Coe who claimed the olympics celebrates ‘the best of mankind’ followed by the athletes procession -The first 2 nations, countries hit hard by exploitation and imperialism and the inherent deficiencies of the socio-economic order were Greece & Afghanistan. Some time later I had to wonder what the handful of athletes from the little island of Tuvalu made of the occasion. Perhaps of all the teams these athletes have the most acute awareness of climate change; it is a daily concern for them. Their home, a tiny island is slowly disappearing under the Pacific ocean. At the 2009 united nations climate conference in Copenhagen the island’s chief negotiator Ian Fry stated
"Tuvalu is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to climate change, and our future rests on the outcome of this meeting."
When the conference failed to reach a binding, meaningful agreement he said
"It looks like we are being offered 30 pieces of silver to betray our people and our future... Our future is not for sale. I regret to inform you that Tuvalu cannot accept this document”
He closed by reiterating the point that global warming is currently "the greatest threat to humanity", and ended with an emotional plea "the fate of my country rests in your hands”
My message from the opening ceremony WE ARE ALL TUVALUENS!